The Kennesaw City Council conducted a tense discussion Wednesday night about the actions of City Manager Steve Kennedy, who on Friday told Georgia EMS that the company had until 12:01 a.m. Monday to stop responding to 911 calls due to a state mandate that the city use only MetroAtlanta Ambulance Service.
The council entered the session at the request of Councilman Bruce Jenkins. Mayor Mark Mathews, who is employed by MetroAtlanta, opted to sit out of the discussion, taking a seat in the audience. Kennedy was not in attendance.
On Friday, Kennedy told Georgia EMS via phone call to cease responding to emergency calls in Kennesaw, which is outside of their jurisdiction.
Kennedy did this as a result of a letter sent by Deputy Director Mickey Moore of the Department of Health Services. Moore’s letter reaffirmed that Kennesaw may only use Metroatlanta Ambulance Service for medical emergencies. The letter also stated that the city has until August 1 to submit a written consent to use MetroAtlanta exclusively.
Georgia EMS had run all of Kennesaw's calls since 1998. When MetroAtlanta Ambulance was designated by the state to service the area in 2001, the city continued to allow Georgia EMS to run its calls.
Mayor Pro-Tem Cris Eaton-Welsh opened the discussion, speaking at length about her disappointment with Kennedy's actions.
"I’m appalled and frustrated with the disregard given to this council (by Kennedy),” Eaton-Welsh said. “A 48-hour verbal notice is not only disrespectful to a company that has served our community for more than 14 years, but it shows a lack of professionalism by the staff members."
Councilman Jeff Duckett spoke next and voiced his agreement with Kennedy's decision, rash though it may have been. Duckett said the law was clear and the city had to obey it.
"We're a government body," Duckett said. "If we're not abiding by the law, we're setting a bad example for the city." He said it was necessary for the city to abide by the law until such time that it could lobby for a change of the law.
Next to speak was Councilman Tim Killingsworth, who expressed a deep admiration for the services of Georgia EMS. He also expressed desire to speak directly to Ron Kadner and Steve Kadner, the directors of Georgia EMS.
“I want the public to know how much I love those two individuals,” Killingsworth said. “I love Georgia EMS. They’ve been there. They’ve been part of this community. They’ve been a part of this community and a part of our lives. I hate for anything like this to happen to anybody that I call a friend.”
Representing Georgia EMS that evening was Amir Adiri, the company’s executive director. He spoke several times before the council, during which he expressed that Georgia EMS is guilty of no legal dispute. Additionally, he said that Georgia EMS is obligated to respond to any call it receives, including those within the city limits of Kennesaw.
“The law states that we can respond to any call and transport if we receive the call,” Adiri said, adding, “If I hear that a kid is not breathing on Shiloh Drive, with all due respect to any rules or regulations, I will go to help him. Anyone who wants to take me to court (for that), I will be more than happy to do that.”
Councilman Bill Thrash also expressed admiration for the services provided by Georgia EMS.
“(Georgia EMS) has been an outstanding service to our citizens,” Thrash said. “These guys have done an outstanding job.” Thrash did say, however, that the city is obligated to obey the law.
The last member to speak was Councilman Bruce Jenkins, who also said Kennesaw was obligated to obey the law. But he agreed Kennedy acted quickly and without the appropriate council.
“We should have discussed it publicly,” he said.
The 95-minute discussion concluded at about 8 p.m., and the meeting was handed back to Mathews to adjourn. The council did not take any action on the matter.
Meanwhile, Mathews . The complaint claims the mayor has used city equipment for other business and that he has been facilitating meetings between his employer and the city manager.